Improve Gut HealthUnderstanding the connection between the brain and the gut is important to treat a leaky blood-brain barrier. In 2014, scientists found that a group of mice that didn’t have bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract had very leaky blood-brain barriers. However, when the scientists of the research study introduced bacteria into the intestines of the unhealthy mice through a fecal transfer, their BBB permeability considerably improved. Increasing good bacteria in your gut can ultimately help improve a leaky blood-brain barrier. Eating probiotics, prebiotic fiber, and fermented foods can increase good bacteria in your GI tract.
Avoid Eating GlutenAccording to many healthcare professionals, we should avoid eating gluten to promote brain health. In 2006, scientists found that gluten can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier because it increases zonulin, a protein that affects BBB permeability and results in neuroinflammation. Gluten sensitivity or intolerance can also cause visible changes in the white matter of the brain. Dr. David Perlmutter, MD, author of Grain Brain and Brain Maker states that gliadin, another protein found in gluten, can also affect BBB permeability. Moreover, other food sensitivities or intolerances can also cause a leaky blood-brain barrier.
Eat Food with SulforaphaneCruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli, among others, have sulforaphane, a phytochemical and well-known antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory properties, similar to turmeric or curcumin. Many research studies have shown that sulforaphane can help improve a leaky blood-brain barrier by decreasing BBB permeability, preventing the breakdown of the BBB, and improving cognitive functions after stroke and traumatic brain injuries. Sulforaphane in myrosinase-activated supplement form can also be taken. Myrosinase is an enzyme in broccoli that helps metabolize sulforaphane.
Eat Food with Resveratrol or PterostilbeneFoods like raspberries, grapes, red wine, and dark chocolate have resveratrol, another powerful antioxidant with potent anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent the development of neurodegenerative diseases caused by a leaky blood-brain barrier. Scientists have found that eating food with resveratrol can ultimately help promote growth hormones in the brain and support mitochondria function. According to research studies, resveratrol can also protect the blood-brain barrier. Numerous other research studies have also found that eating foods with resveratrol can have other health benefits, including:
- Decreasing a leaky blood-brain barrier
- Protecting the blood-brain barrier
- Improving blood-brain barrier permeability
Drink More CoffeeCaffeine can help promote overall brain health and support the blood-brain barrier. Research studies have shown that drinking coffee can help prevent the development of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, among other health issues, by protecting the BBB. Scientists have also found that caffeine blocks blood-brain barrier permeability. Other research studies have also shown that drinking coffee can help prevent neurodegeneration by balancing the BBB. Because drinking coffee and caffeine can commonly affect sleep, however, make sure to consume these early in the morning.
Take Omega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that are primarily found in fish. Although the body can’t produce these by itself, they are necessary for overall brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help increase the growth hormones in the brain, help support mitochondria function, or help people overcome addiction and withdrawal, as well as help protect the blood-brain barrier. Scientists have found that taking omega-3 fatty acids can decrease damage to the BBB following a stroke or TBI and improve BBB permeability in people with multiple sclerosis. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be taken in supplement form.
Take Melatonin and Improve SleepSleep is fundamental for brain health. Poor sleep has also been shown to increase blood-brain barrier permeability. Taking melatonin supplements can also help improve sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that is released by a small gland in the brain, known as the pineal gland. Melatonin helps regulate the circadian rhythm, or sleep and wake cycles. Enough melatonin is necessary to fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply throughout the night. Research studies have also shown that taking melatonin can help balance the blood-brain barrier and prevent further damage following a stroke and/or traumatic brain injury.
Manage and Reduce StressAccording to research studies, stress can ultimately damage the blood-brain barrier. Chronic stress has also been found to increase inflammation and BBB permeability. Fortunately, managing and reducing stress can help fix the blood-brain barrier. Massage, acupuncture, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), emotional freedom techniques (EFT), heart-rate variability (HRV) training, and mindfulness meditation can also help manage and reduce stress. Taking supplements to help improve stress can also include, zinc, magnesium, ashwagandha, and phosphatidylserine, among others.
Avoid Drinking AlcoholAccording to healthcare professionals, drinking too much alcohol can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier. Research studies have shown that acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism, can increase oxidative stress and affect the blood-brain barrier, resulting in inflammation and a variety of neurological diseases and brain health issues. Although some types of alcohol are better than others, it’s best to considerably decrease or avoid drinking alcohol. If you suspect that you may have a leaky blood-brain barrier, make sure to talk to your doctor about how drinking too much alcohol may cause a leaky BBB.
Many factors can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier, ultimately causing increased BBB permeability, oxidative stress, inflammation and a variety of brain and mental health issues, including neurodegenerative diseases. The blood-brain barrier is a protective shield which allows nutrients to enter the brain while keeping harmful components in the bloodstream from passing into the brain. A leaky blood-brain barrier is associated with anxiety, depression, brain fog, fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia. Fortunately, several natural ways have been demonstrated to help improve overall brain health and wellness as well as help fix a leaky blood-brain barrier. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. InsightThe blood-brain barrier is a protective shield that allows nutrients to enter the brain while keeping harmful components in the bloodstream from passing into the brain. However, many factors can cause a leaky blood-brain barrier. This can allow harmful components to penetrate the blood-brain brain, ultimately causing inflammation and brain health issues. A leaky blood-brain barrier is associated with many mental health issues and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, brain fog, fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia. In the next article, we will discuss more natural ways which have been demonstrated to help fix a leaky blood-brain barrier and improve overall brain health.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez References:
- The Star Academy. “How to Repair a Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier.” The Star Academy, The Star Academy, 16 Oct. 2018, thestaracademy.co.za/repair-leaky-blood-brain-barrier/.